Victoria, British Columbia is one of my favourite places in the World. Every spring I get the opportunity to go there with Stars on Ice and after a beautiful 2-day stay at the Oswego Hotel, I find myself not wanting to leave. With stunning scenery, friendly people, nice weather, endless bike paths, unique local shopping and of course, the amazing variety of vegan restaurants, I think I could live happily in Victoria one day.
My vegan adventures in Victoria are wonderful, with my local stops always being Green Cuisine and Rebar. This time though, I decided I had to try some new places. There are so many veg options in the city and I didn’t want to limit myself to the tried and true selections that I go to every year. So, I did some research and found a few new restaurants and shops to try. My experiences were tasteful and interesting, and I wanted to share them with you.
As soon as I dropped my bags off in my hotel room I was off to find the Vegan Hippie Chick. On my way there, directly cross the street in fact, I discovered a great yoga clothing store. They had yoga and work-out clothing that was made from organic material and most of them were even made in Canada. These are the types of shops you’ll find wandering around Victoria! I decided I had to support them and buy a few things for training. Everyone ends up wearing the same Lululemon clothing all the time, and I like to be unique and supporting a store that values sustainability and local products won me over.
After emptying out my bank account there, I made my way to Vegan Hippie Chick. The restaurant is only a few months old, but it really catches your attention with it’s hot pink interior and exterior. It is owned by a family, with a small kitchen in the back, and a young child, maybe 10 years old, working the cash register and helping prepare the food with what looked to be her father. I wasn’t sure what to order, but there was a container of dehydrated onion rings with nacho cheese dip sitting on the counter and it looked delicious. I picked up those, along with a Chick’n Caesar sandwich which was made on dehydrated sunflower seed bread. I don’t always eat raw food, but this sandwich was very enjoyable. I liked the atmosphere in the restaurant, even though it was very quiet because it was almost closing time (They close early, at 5:00 pm). I’d go back again and next time I want to try their Grama’s Carrot Cake!
I went on after lunch to the Saffire Day Spa. I didn’t eat vegan food there, but I wanted to share how great their Indian Hot Oil Head Massage was. It is a traditional Ayurvedic technique that has been practiced for over 1000 years. Massage is done on the shoulders, upper back, neck, scalp and face, providing a de-stressing for the entire body. The treatment also involves balancing of the top three chakras or energy centres bringing a feeling of inner peace and well-being. I also had a new experience of hot oil being poured into my ears and then my ears being massaged. Next up was grabbing dinner to bring back to my hotel and about one block away was another Vegan restaurant that I had yet to experience.
Be love serves organic and local plant-based foods and the lady doing my spa treatment told me that it was a great place for dinner. She said even meat-eats are regulars there because their food is so good and original. Along with being plant-based, everything they serve is wheat, gluten and processed-sugar free. Everything is made from scratch, with love. When I arrived, the restaurant was packed. Luckily, I was only ordering take-out and the service was extremely quick. I couldn’t decide what to order, because their entire menu seemed so tasty, but I settled on the Mac and Cheese. And this was not just a bowl of pasta with some cheese sauce. The pasta was made from brown rice and the cheese sauce was made from cashews and coconuts. Topped off with plenty of broccoli, red onions, spinach and a walnut parmesan, I found one bowl was not enough. Once I finished it, I wanted more! It was so good and it didn’t leave me with a heavy, full feeling, like most pasta dishes do. Next spring, I will definitely be going back for the exact same order!
The next day was show day in Victoria, but since we don’t go to the rink until 3:00 pm, I had most of my day to wander, shop and of course, eat! After spending the morning shopping with Kaetlyn Osmond and finding some great hats at our favorite shop, Roberta’s Hats, we went to grab lunch at Green Cuisine.
This is one of my regular stops while in Victoria. It is in a little market square downtown, about one block away from Roberta’s Hat shop. The homemade, buffet style food is always tasty, and always changing. It is fresh and affordable with a relaxed setting. I got a banana blueberry brown rice muffin for the next mornings breakfast, along with a buckwheat salad and samosas for lunch. Filled with curried potatoes and peas with a light pastry puff exterior and a chili dipping sauce, the samosas were amazing. It’s also worth nothing that they are baked, not fried, which I think is what makes them magical. I also had to pick up one of my favourite cookies, Green Cuisine’s regular Maui Wowie Cookie. I always eat way too many of these, so this time I limited myself to only buying one. These cookies are made with tropical fruits and gooey vegan marshmallows. I always want to try to recreate these at home, maybe this summer would be a good time to experiment with that.
After lunch, I wandered around Munro’s Book Store. Victoria has so many beautiful, authentic book stores and they are always a pleasure to look through. I didn’t buy anything this time, but it’s always nice to walk through. On my way back to the hotel, I wanted to pick up something for dinner. We have catered dinner every night at the venue, but rarely do they ever have vegan options. And even if they do, I am just so picky, that it’s not up to my standards. I appreciate the venue’s efforts to make vegan food for me, but I want to make sure I am fueling my body with organic wholefoods, so I’d rather be prepared and bring my own food.
This was a new find for me, and it was definitely worth my walk through town to Victoria’s Public Market. The Very Good Butcher’s use vegan, organic products to make plant-based meats. I have never seen a vegan butcher before, and I was very intrigued. They had a sign hanging in the shop that read “We butcher beans” and I thought it was clever. I didn’t know what to try, but the kind man that was working suggested to me their “Roast Beast Sandwich” served on rye bread.
So, I haven’t ate Roast BEEF in over a decade, so I don’t have much to compare this to, but my Roast Beast sandwich was remarkable. It was chewy and juicy, loaded with mustard, pickles, onions and lettuce. The restaurant started getting very busy as I was waiting for my sandwich, with a long line-up. And after researching a bit, I discovered that a young couple started selling their plant-based butchery products at farmer’s markets and it would sell out so quickly that they couldn’t keep up with the demand, thus the reason for expanding the company. There is also a pop-up location coming to Vancouver this summer. I think they are really onto something great here. Most people enjoy the taste of meat, and that’s one of the main reasons they feel like they can’t eat vegan foods. But The Very Good Butcher’s recreate “meat’ wonderfully, using organic and local products (When possible).
Another beautiful Victoria experience was completed with a bike ride by the water the following morning before taking the ferry over to Vancouver. It was a bit cold this trip, I didn’t get a sun tan like I usually do, but I still found my time in Victoria to be enjoyable, as always. Looking forward to going back next spring! If you find yourself in the area, I encourage you to test one of these restaurants and support local, plant-based restaurants. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the flavor, creativity and ambiance!